Winter and Spring 2011/2012

We have a bright little star joining our family this year, best Christmas news ever.

View on the River Tarn by night from Moissac lock

A very magical year indeed, "Our grandson" is due to be born in July. I am sure my camera will be red hot come this summer.

Sunsets or sun rises in South West France, are always a magic moment when I capture a natural light photograph. My camera has taken back stage these last 18 months while working on the house.

We are looking forward to having the time to cruise again this season, our plans are very open

Work on our house continues, entertaining is now a joy with our added space.

Work continued inside and outside our house during the winter. Friends gave up time freely to help us, we also enjoyed lots of entertaining, especially family and friends.

Many a dinner party, a couple of murder mystery evenings, many fish supper nights. Our new BBQ was built by John, our winter went by very quickly indeed.

Visit our renovation work. I have photographed month by month.

Our garden work continues, with some warm spells indeed - John in January.

John and I have worked really hard over the last eighteen months, with lots of excitement, some disappointments, and of course tears too came, when tennis elbow, brought a halt to my painting in the house.

We spent a lot of our time getting the house ready for our family coming in December and again in March. We had many friends visit us this winter, it was a lovely break from the work to proudly show off our work.

Julie and Alistair help dismantle Christmas decorations in house

John visited England in January, hiring a van with Clive and Di, to bring back some of our personnel belongings. Clive and Di are selling Harvink. Alistair shared the drive back to France, he and Julie (who had flown in on same plane as John departed on) then spent some time with us.

We thank both of you !!!

Julie came for a weeks holiday, she was in need of a rest and she thoroughly enjoyed lots of quite space to rest as I was unfortunately ill in bed for 4 days after eating some shell fish in Carcassonne, what a week that was... say no more!

February sunshine for Sunday lunch at Tina's (see the sun cream on table yes it was that warm).

We enjoyed some really good weather in February, eating many a Sunday lunch outside, or a BBQ on our terrace.

We have a weight watchers club, a darts night, art group, wine groups. French classes, badminton, Yoga, Pizza nights, fish chips night, friends of friends nights are just a few of the ... this retirement is hard work ...

All a most welcome change from working so hard on the house, we tried so hard to complete our terrace before my birthday, but with so much going on, sadly the work was not completed for March. C'est la vie !!!

Family gather in Liverpool to say goodbye to Aunty Phyllis

Sadly our dear Aunt Phyllis died. We flew home to spend time in the Uk with our families. Always a very sad time to return home to a funeral, saying your good bye, to a loved one. Our family traveled from all over to say farewell, Aunt Phyllis did have a good send off.

Good news followed as my niece Nicola had a baby boy. So happy was my sister Jean to hear of Gabriel's safe arrival. Congratulations to Nicola and Jason

We had a very cold spell in February, the walled canal outside our house was frozen for sometime.

the canal outside our house was frozen

It was much warmer in England than South of France, especially when we were visiting our family. A short sharp frost in Moissac after snowing, killed many out door plants and many trees were sadly lost also.

The main Moissac post office building, was so badly damaged by the frost, all the fascia bricks, came tumbling down from the building, thankfully this happened during the night and no one was hurt.

I also witnessed lots of people falling, cars skidding causing lots of damage on one of my early morning walks. I must have been mad to go out in the snow. Friends boats had frozen pipes which also caused much damaged too.

Castelsarrasin and Moissac, out came the sledges.

snow and ice on the canal in Castelsarrasin


Much fun in the snow for the children, it's not often you can sledge or ski in the South France, thankfully it did not last for too long, but much damage to trees and plants all the same.

Our Castelsarrasin mooring friends and one of their many fĂȘtes

Castelsarrasin mooring friends

Moet Chandon has safely moored this year in Castelsarrasin basin, she was well looked after, especially when we were away in all the bad weather.

We enjoyed time this winter in our house with weekly visits to Moet, who suffered from our lack of care, friends enjoyed staying aboard her.

We celebrated many birthdays and gathering in this port over winter, as well as joining in the port parties in Moissac... especially enjoying the fish and chips evenings on first Monday of the month in the port or in our house if weather was bad.

We departed from our winter mooring in Castelsarrasin this March

departure from our winter mooring in Castelsarrasin

Moet engine started first turn and she continues to looking after us as she has done during the last 11 yrs.

Our first short cruise of this season was to Moissac 7 locks and 7 kilometres with good friends Tina and Tony, a lovely picnic aboard then our first BBQ back at the house. Tony enjoyed taking the tiller for a spell of tuition in boat handling.

Wonderful weather for the first two weeks in March, such lovely cruising weather for first cruise of the season.

Tina and Tony helps us take Moet back to Moissac for my birthday party.

cruising to moissac

Do you think we will all lose a few stone on this trip? We try hard to lose a few pounds (now and again), but with so much social gatherings and celebrations, we all love food far too much.

Each Tuesday before art class we weigh our selves, then have the biggest feast Tina can come up with. Food which is good for the waist line, then it's all down hill after Tuesday.

The first of many a BBQ on our new patio, which was just finished in time for our family arrival.



My family arrived in Moissac to help celebrate my 60th birthday, so many birthdays this week.

Irene's 60th birthday party in moissac

A magical week. Thanks to the help of my family and our many friends. A lot of hard work and organisation on everyone's part for this party week to happen. 20 family fly in together.

We started our celebrations with a special birthday and anniversary dinner for Kathleen and John. The following day a lunch on our terrace for all my family, then dinner for us all at Lou's grill.

We all met for the Saturday market and coffee in the main square, we made plans for our walk along the river and canal, some spa treatments later for some of the girls. Many a hairdresser appointments, even time for a bit of sunbathing on top of the Moet for the boys.

do you want a beer ? I'm afraid yes

We were all getting ready to party in Moissac, Kaz and Iain went to a lot of trouble with photographs of me all along the road and bridge.

For me being together with our three children, their partners my brothers sisters and their partners, this was an amazing feeling. I will glow for many a year to come, that all my family made such a huge effort to come to South France to be here on this special day.

We were together on my birthday/mothers day, the first mothers day without our mum. How proud she would have been too, we all felt mum's presence here with us.

A wonderful party on St Patrick's night in Moissac Pizza bar for our 77 guests, Tina catered for this party, she worked very hard indeed. DJ Tony helped the night swing well into the early hours of the morning. A BBQ following day at our house for our family and close friends.

Picnic cruise with family from Moissac, Canal de Garonne

Family cruising on Canal de Garonne

Rather a cold March day, when we took our family out for a cruise and picnic, it was so nice to be cruising again, out and about with my camera, though many more photographs of me this month - our son is a professional photographer, he seemed to be around every corner. Thanks Mike he took some stunning photos of my birthday week.

For more photographs of my birthday week and my 60th click here.

Sharon's 60th birthday in Castelsarrasin, many celebrations and birthdays over this winter

Friends in Castelsarrasin

Jan, John, Sharon, Brian, Jane, Hugh, Ursula, Mike, John and I help Sharon celebrate her 60th with a lunch out at a hotel, followed by drinks in the port. Sharon and Brian set off cruising soon after, heading up north. Sadly she broke her wrist soon after setting off, but on wards we go she shouted.

Friends of Carcassonne meet up for the Limoux wine festival held in the village of Antugnac

Friends meet up for the wine festival

Jane, Sheila, Alan, Beate, Mike, Fiona, Clive, Irene, James, Earl, John, Alan, and Paul a toast to you all.. most of us met up again following month for Alan's birthday.

23rd Toques et Clochers wine festival

The 23rd Toques et Clochers wine festival this year was in the village of Antugnac, south of Carcassonne.

toques et clochers antugnac 2012

Earl and Fiona invited Jane, Mike, John and I to stay with them in Malras. With time to catch up with everyone before cruising season begins, Fiona and Earl have a very busy season coming up (barge colibri).

We enjoyed a wonderful weekend, eating fine food from one of Frances fine Michelin chefs ( also Earl and Fiona's kitchen ).

We drank some good chardonnay indeed. Over 60,000 visitors enjoyed this special festival, held in a different village each year. 41 villages share in the proceeds of funds raised, this year this village which lies in the foot hills of the Pyrenees were the hosts.

Coming next : Cruising Canal-de-Garonne + our experience of the covered dry Dock in Toulouse.